Songwriting - For The Father Alone
I remember the first time God asked me to sacrifice a song to him. I was sitting at the piano in the music room at the house I grew up in. I began to play a beautiful song of worship to the Lord and as soon as my mind began to think of ways I could spread this song I heard his voice. "Just give me that song Nathan."
My internal voice went crazy! What if THIS was THE SONG that people would catch on to? What if this was the best song that I ever wrote? How could I just waste it?
God kept gently asking me to surrender the music. So I did. I never knowingly sang that particular song again but instead gave to the Lord in an act of personal worship. I believe he was incredibly honored by that gift and continued to bless me because of my offering.
Who are we writing for?
As songwriters for worship and the church we have to ask ourselves a simple question: who are we writing for? Whose heart are we trying to move with our music? If the answer is our own or the hearts of humans then I think we are misguided.
When you write to please man you end up with what is essentially pop music. Lyrics that are catchy and fit in the mold of what is expected. In this approach we rarely write something that comes as a revelation, and it's rarely anointed.
Pursuing God’s Heart
I'm discovering that true songwriting happens when our main pursuit is God's heart. I've begun a spiritual practice of spontaneous personal worship or songwriting. Often when I go to the secret place of worship I begin with singing songs that are in my heart. Songs that are often deeply personal and frankly quite awful from the standard of melodic/lyrical value or form. Yet in these songs I may hear God's whisper telling me to breathe a little more into that one chorus or that one verse. When I do, he breathes with me and out comes a unique and Holy Spirit anointed song.
Instead of going into worship asking God which songs to give to him and which songs to give to man, we give all of our songs and art to the Lord. It's not that we throw away our gifts but rather that we learn to continually lay them at his feet until he releases our gifts into the world.
Suddenly the pressure is off. My main goal is to please God by giving back to him the gifts he gave to me. When he compels me to share with others that special gift I am free to be open but not bound by the approval of man.
This is freedom in songwriting!